Degenerate Art Ensemble

DanceWatch Weekly: Embracing the matriarch

Mizu Desierto says good-bye to the matriarch of her family and channels her final teaching, plus PWNW Alembic and Kalakendra

Portland dance this weekend is a magical convergence of female energy, wisdom, spirituality, discussions of death and dying, creation, and letting go of it all. On Friday, three powerful choreographer/performers who defy definition—Mizu Desierto from Portland, and Haruko Crow Nishimura and Joshua Kohl, co-artistic directors of Degenerate Art Ensemble from Seattle—will share an evening. The works are based in Butoh but expand beyond, utilizing dance, theatre, live sound, and video to address and meditate on a variety of human states and experiences.

Jamuna Chiarini

This week I interviewed Desierto, a dance/theatre artist with a 20-year practice in Butoh and the co-founder of Portland’s Water in the Desert, a major hub of artistic activity that includes The Headwaters Theatre, Prior Day Farm, and the annual Butoh College. Desierto, who has been a major contributor to the Portland dance and art scene in many ways for many years, will present her solo Matriarch, a dance/film collaboration with composer Lisa DeGrace and video designer Stephen Miller. Matriarch examines death and dying, lineages, and bees—specifically queen bees.

My email interview with Desierto about what inspired the work and how she created it, begins below after this week’s performance listing.


Dance Weekly: Preserving dance, like jam!

Erik Nordstrom's new film on Portland dance past as the present looks uncertain

This weekend brings us two dance film events and two live dance performances. Because dance is ephemeral, it is an interesting challenge to search for new ways to capture and preserve it. This weekend brings us several of those possibilities.

First up is the screening of a filmed version of a live performance by Degenerate Art Ensemble of their latest work, Predator Songstress. Degenerate Art Ensemble is a dance/theatre company based in Seattle, and the film is by Portland based filmmaker Ian Lucero with costumes by Alenka Loesch. (I interviewed Loesch several months ago on her life in Butoh.). Lucero is also known for his filming of Waking the Green Sound by Wobbly Dance’s Yulia Arakelyan and Erik Ferguson.

Next is Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present, a documentary film by Portland dance artist Eric Nordstrom who will be screening his film alongside Off Location by Carolyn Altman and Bonnie Merrill, Waking the Green Sound by Wobbly Dance’s Yulia Arakelyan and Erik Ferguson, and Carla Mann’s Ching. I interviewed Nordstrom via email and that conversation unfolds below.

And last but not least two live performances: Alegria! by Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre and Procedures for Saying No by Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble, featuring dance artists Linda Austin. These you will have to see and hear with your own eyes and ears, the good old-fashioned way.


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